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What We’re Watching: Hariri back as Lebanese PM, US-India vs China, Iran’s US election shenanigans

Hariri 4.0 in Lebanon: Veteran politician Saad Hariri returns as Lebanon's prime minister almost exactly one year after he stepped down amid mass street protests over corruption and lack of jobs. Now, though, his job has become even tougher: sky-high inflation, cash-strapped banks, and rising poverty were all bad enough before first COVID-19 hit. Then a huge explosion in the Beirut port killed over 200 people and caused billions of dollars in damages. Although bringing back Hariri for his fourth stint as PM doesn't seem to jive with the Lebanese people's increasing demands for change to deal with the country's collapse, he was the only candidate with sufficient support to get nominated in Lebanon's famously complex political power-sharing system. So far, Hariri has promised to set up a team of experts to carry out long-overdue political and economic reforms Lebanon that needs to get a financial lifeline from international donors like France. Will Hariri 4.0 deliver?
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Rape and impunity (not only) in Bangladesh

Last month in Bangladesh, a video showing the gang rape of a 37-year old woman went viral on Facebook. Eight men implicated in the crime were apprehended, but the incident — along with several other high profile cases of sexual violence — has provoked massive protests in the capital, Dhaka, and other parts of the country. There were calls for the Prime Minister to resign.

The protesters have a lot to be mad about. Back in January, mass protests over the rape of a university student in Dhaka brought thousands into the streets. The government promised to create, "within 30 days", a special commission to investigate rising reports of sexual violence in Bangladesh. More than nine months later, it still doesn't appear to exist.

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What We’re Watching: Indian women & Dalits push back, EU sues UK over Brexit, Israel & Lebanon maritime talks

India reckons with violence against women, Dalits: The deaths on the same day of two Dalit women after being gang-raped has sparked outrage across India. In New Delhi, scores of protesters were arrested for violating coronavirus restrictions after urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to end the country's "rape culture," while a Dalit party leader called on all members of the lower caste to rally throughout India to demand that the perpetrators be hanged. The tragic deaths have exposed the country's bid problem with rising gender- and caste-based violence. India was one of the most dangerous places to be a woman even before COVID-19, and the pandemic has only made things worse. Dalits — who used to be referred to as "untouchables" under the caste system that the country formally abolished in 1950 — are still victims of severe discrimination by upper-caste Indians. We're watching to see if the anger at these latest deaths turns into a nationwide protest movement that puts pressure on Modi to do more to uphold the rights of both women and Dalits.

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What We’re Watching: Armenians & Azeris won't talk, Indian sectarian violence ruling, US-Taiwan infra plan

No peace talks over Nagorno-Karabakh: Armenia and Azerbaijan are resisting pressure from Russia and the United Nations to stop fighting and talk out their dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh. Since major clashes erupted over the weekend, killing scores on both sides, the two countries are inching closer to a wider war that could potentially draw in not only Russia — which is treaty-bound to defend Armenia — but also a newly assertive Turkey, which backs Azerbaijan. Vladimir Putin has offered to mediate, but so far has no takers. Meanwhile, Armenia says Turkey has sent Syrian mercenaries to Nagorno-Karabakh and shot down an Armenian fighter jet. As if that weren't enough, the latest outside player to weigh in on the conflict is France, whose support for Armenia has put Paris at odds with NATO ally Turkey. We are watching to see if more countries — for instance the US — will get involved, and if this resurgent conflict becomes an even uglier proxy war.

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The world leaders who love Trump

Donald Trump's presidency has irked a lot of people around the world. And in fairness, that's no surprise. He was elected in part to blow up long-standing assumptions about how international politics, trade, and diplomatic relations are supposed to work.

But while he has correctly identified some big challenges — adapting NATO to the 21st century, managing a more assertive China, or ending America's endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — his impulsive style, along with his restrictions on trade and immigration, have alienated many world leaders. Global polls show that favorable views of the US have plummeted to all-time lows in many countries, particularly among traditional American allies in Europe.

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